BLDUP Spotlight: GZA Spotlight - Solving Complex Challenges in the Natural & Built Environments 12/12/23

GZA Spotlight

BLDUP recently sat down with GZA, a national provider of geotechnical, water resource, construction, energy, environmental, and mining industries providing monitoring, instrumentation, and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. GZA is transforming the way stakeholders connect and collaborate throughout the entire asset life cycle. With their innovative approach and cutting-edge technology, GZA offers turnkey digital and sensor monitoring solutions that address compliance, early warning systems, condition monitoring, asset management, and ongoing operational efficiencies. 

BLDUP: How does GZA utilize existing expertise in conjunction with the latest technology such as drones, advanced sensor solutions, IoT, cameras, and artificial intelligence to assist developers in documenting baseline or existing conditions during the permitting and design phase of a project?

GZA: GZA has nearly 60 years of experience providing unique instrumentation solutions and comprehensive engineering analysis for complex construction projects across the United States and occasionally international locations. GZA’s Digital Engineering Solutions (DES) provides a wide spectrum of Monitoring, Instrumentation, and IoT Solutions to private developers, owners, government agencies, general contractors, construction managers, engineering firms, and other entities. Our staff of dedicated engineers is focused on understanding and satisfying your unique needs through proactive communication, attention to detail, creative thinking, and technical expertise.

GZA is empowered by a professional team of “boots on the ground” engineers with decades of hands-on experience. Our diverse instrumentation experience includes high-rise and residential structures, tunnels, dams, bridges, open pit mines, new/existing building structures, military facilities, earth embankments, foundations, utilities, highways, and marine facilities.

We leverage long-standing relationships with leading industry manufacturers to provide state-of-the-art, turnkey instrumentation solutions to your project. Our real-time monitoring systems streamline data collection, processing, and visualization so the engineering team can make proactive and informed decisions. 

Our team has assisted private and public developers on projects of all sizes in the New England area, NY, tri-state, Colorado, Oklahoma, and many more states. Our DES team has assisted through environmental permitting, monitoring of vibration/movement of adjacent structures, drone assessment, AI analysis of photogrammetry, and much more.

GZA’s constantly evolving, state-of-the-art monitoring systems include fully automated environmental/structural/environmental/permitting solutions that leverage AI technology, machine learning, remote loggers, cameras, and drones to proactively and remotely meet permitting requirements, verify design performance, maintain safe working conditions, minimize critical asset risk, increase work productivity, efficiently support owners through the full cycle of the project, and reduce overall project cost. With superior data quality, increased monitoring frequencies, and vastly reduced labor costs, these systems are more capable and cost-efficient than ever before.


Photo: GZA installing automated monitoring systems for residential and commercial structures.


BLDUP: Can you explain how GZA's monitoring solutions in the construction industry leverage the latest technology, such as fully automated cloud-based systems, digital twins, IoT solution, and drones, to ensure efficient and cost-effective operations and maintenance of assets?

GZA: GZA’s DES team has vetted existing and upcoming technology to provide a single cloud-based platform to streamline various types of data from a wide range of sources. We are able to optimize current and future asset operations and maintenance by combining data from GIS, automated instrumentation, public agencies, engineered models, drone footage, and existing systems into a single packaged solution tailored to each specific project. Our automated solutions are capable of replacing thousands of hours that would otherwise be spent on data processing and analytics.

Initially, the implementation of fully automated cloud-based systems enables real-time data acquisition and analysis, eliminating manual data collection and reducing human error and increasing response time. These systems can gather data from various sensors deployed in the field, such as inclinometers, piezometers, environmental sensors, camera/drone photogrammetry, and strain gauges, and transmit it to a cloud-based platform. This centralized data storage and analysis enable engineers and stakeholders to access critical information remotely, facilitating timely decision-making and reducing operational costs.

Digital twins, which are virtual replicas of physical real-world assets, can further enhance monitoring solutions. By creating a digital twin, construction companies can simulate the behavior of their assets and perform predictive analysis. Real-time data collected by sensors can be fed into the digital twin, allowing engineers to monitor the asset's performance, detect anomalies, and identify potential issues before they escalate out of control. This proactive approach minimizes downtime, reduces maintenance costs, and extends the lifespan of geotechnical assets.

IoT solutions play a vital role in automated geotechnical monitoring by enabling connectivity between various devices and sensors. These solutions offer seamless integration and communication between sensors, data acquisition systems, and cloud-based platforms. IoT devices can be installed on geotechnical assets, enabling continuous data monitoring and automatic alerts for any deviations from predefined thresholds. This real-time monitoring capability ensures quick response times, improves safety, and minimizes risks associated with geotechnical hazards and changes in condition.

Drones have emerged as a valuable tool for geotechnical monitoring due to their ability to access hard-to-reach areas and capture high-resolution imagery in a manner that can not be achieved by human inspection. Equipped with sensors, drones can gather aerial data and perform remote inspections on geotechnical assets, such as slopes, tunnels, and embankments. The captured data can be integrated into the cloud-based systems, digital twins, or used for 3D modeling, providing a comprehensive understanding of the asset's condition. Drones significantly reduce the need for manual inspections, thereby improving safety, increasing efficiency, and reducing costs.

By leveraging advanced automated geotechnical monitoring solutions, construction companies can optimize asset performance, reduce maintenance costs, and enhance safety. The integration of fully automated cloud-based systems, digital twins, IoT solutions, and drones enables real-time data acquisition, predictive analysis, remote monitoring, and comprehensive asset assessments. These technology-driven solutions empower engineers and decision-makers with timely and accurate information, ensuring efficient and cost-effective operations and maintenance of geotechnical assets throughout their lifecycle.

Photo: Drone footage collected by GZA, capable of machine learning overlay.

BLDUP: How does GZA's leadership in design, permitting, monitoring, geostructural design, and environmental solutions contribute to the success of various construction projects across different sectors? Can you highlight any standout projects where GZA's expertise made a significant impact?

GZA: Strengthened by the support of 750+ employees in 32 offices, our Digital Engineering Solutions Team can draw upon GZA’s full complement of Core Services to provide additional value beyond geotechnical and structural instrumentation. Collectively, we have the expertise to address complex civil engineering challenges (geotechnical, structural, environmental, ecological, water, etc.) through our extensive, in-house network of engineers, scientists, and technical specialists.

GZA's existing leadership in permitting and design ensures that projects are conceptualized and translated into effective and efficient plans. Leadership in permitting entails a deep understanding of the regulatory landscape and the ability to navigate the complex processes involved in obtaining necessary permits and approvals. GZA has already established relationships with regulatory agencies, enabling smoother and faster permitting processes. This capability minimizes project delays, ensures compliance with regulations, and mitigates risks associated with non-compliance.

We also provide effective monitoring and quality control systems that can be crucial for project success. Our team is considered a leader in monitoring and involves implementing advanced technologies in automated systems and real-time data acquisition, to track construction activities, assess performance, identify potential issues, and ensure quality at every stage. Timely detection and mitigation of problems are often considered essential for the project outcome, improves safety, and reduces costly rework.

GZA’s geostructural design experience revolves around the complex support of excavations and existing/new structures that are influenced by complex geological and geotechnical conditions. This includes foundations, retaining walls, slopes, and excavations. GZA’s strong geostructural design capabilities minimize geotechnical risks, optimize construction methods, and provide cost-effective solutions that ensure the stability and longevity of structures. We have the ability to integrate our solutions with the developer’s existing operation systems and available tools and construction material to come up with the optimal solution.

GZA’s environmental team prides themselves in environmental solutions that are pivotal for sustainable and responsible construction practices. This includes expertise in environmental impact assessments, mitigation strategies, sustainable design, and soil and groundwater management during construction, We provide solutions that both allow for cost-effective construction while also adhering to environmental standards and regulations to contribute to the long-term success of the project. 

GZA's cumulative solutions in various sectors and existing relationships across major cities and with most agencies results in projects that are completed on schedule, within budget, and to the highest quality of standards while minimizing risks.

Examples of such projects include: Huntington Theater Renovation in Boston, MA where GZA was the third party responsible for all monitoring and compliance during renovation operations and new construction. GZA represented the subject matter expert for the developer during meetings with the owners, designers, and engineer. GZA developed an extensive monitoring system to track any changes in the ground or structural vibration/movement, dust monitoring, water level monitoring, condition survey, and other solutions. GZA has ample experience on many more projects across the US, simply reach out to us if you’d like to hear about other applications, we are eager to share.

Photo: Drone footage collected by GZA.

BLDUP: Could you elaborate on how GZA's real-time data and analytics, backed by advanced technology such as artificial intelligence, help increase the safety and performance of assets during the operations and maintenance stage? How does GZA ensure prompt response to any changes in conditions?

GZA: Real-time data acquisition systems continuously monitor the performance and condition of assets. Sensors embedded in infrastructure, such as structural health monitoring systems and geotechnical instrumentation, collect data on various factors like stress levels, vibration, temperature, and displacement. This proactive monitoring enables early detection of potential issues and allows for prompt intervention to prevent failures or hazards.

GZA employs advanced analytics and artificial intelligence algorithms to help make sense of the vast amount of data collected from assets. Machine learning techniques can identify patterns, anomalies, and correlations in the data, providing valuable insights into asset behavior and potential risks. These insights can be used to optimize maintenance schedules, predict asset degradation, and implement preventive measures, thereby increasing safety and performance.

By analyzing real-time data, GZA can develop predictive maintenance models. These models utilize historical data and machine learning algorithms to predict when equipment or assets are likely to require maintenance or replacement. Predictive maintenance helps to optimize asset performance, minimize unplanned downtime, and reduce maintenance costs by enabling proactive interventions based on data-driven predictions.GZA ensures prompt response to changes in conditions by establishing efficient communication channels and automated alert systems. Real-time data is processed and made available to relevant stakeholders, such as engineers, maintenance teams, and project managers, through user-friendly dashboards or mobile applications. Automated alerts can be triggered when critical thresholds or anomalies are detected, enabling prompt action and coordination.

Additionally, GZA employs a team of dedicated professionals who are trained to analyze real-time data, interpret insights, and recommend appropriate actions. These experts are skilled in leveraging advanced technology to monitor assets effectively and ensure the safety and performance of infrastructure throughout the operations and maintenance stage. 

Overall, GZA's utilization of real-time data, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence empowers prompt response to changes in asset conditions. This proactive approach allows for early detection of potential risks, timely interventions, optimized maintenance, and enhanced safety and performance of assets during their operational lifespan.

Photo: Snapshots of the automated platform overlays and data.


BLDUP: How does GZA utilize their technology and expertise to prolong the life of assets during the closure stage of a project, including post-construction monitoring and detecting dynamic changes to the structure, ground, or underground conditions? How does GZA support clients in meeting compliance requirements and responding to any changes in conditions? 

GZA: GZA utilizes advanced monitoring techniques and technologies to assess the performance and condition of assets after construction, during the asset management life cycle stage. This includes the deployment of advanced sensors to monitor structural integrity and detect any deviations from expected behavior. Ground and underground conditions can also be monitored to detect dynamic changes in assets, whether caused by natural forces, environmental factors, or nearby activities. Early detection allows for timely interventions to mitigate risks and ensure the longevity of assets and can be leveraged for Owner’s maintenance programs.

GZA has the expertise to assist in meeting compliance requirements by staying up-to-date with regulations and industry standards. The company's expertise includes a thorough understanding of environmental impact assessments, regulatory processes, and compliance obligations. GZA provides guidance on compliance measures, helps clients understand and navigate complex requirements, and ensures that projects maintain adherence to relevant regulations throughout the closure stage.

In the event of any changes in conditions, GZA provides prompt response and support to its clients. Our team thoroughly monitors the asset data on a daily basis to assess the health of the structures. This involves analyzing collected data and monitoring results, utilizing predictive models to anticipate future changes, and recommending appropriate actions based on the findings. GZA's team of experts collaborates closely with clients to develop mitigation strategies, adjust maintenance plans, and adapt asset management practices to address any emerging conditions effectively. Our team welcomes the opportunity to be involved in the discussion table during all stages of the construction from site investigation and permitting to implementation and long-term health monitoring.

Photo: Prism used for automated deformation monitoring of a seawall with a view of NYC.

Photo: Meet one of our teams hard at work monitoring deep foundations.

Photo: Monitoring of historical and new structures adjacent to a private development

Photo: Automated Total Station Monitoring Deformation of Train Tracks Adjacent to Construction

Learn more about GZA & view case studies here.